Archive for How to Easily Say “Because” in Korean

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 49

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2017 by shenanitim

이야기는의 수업 두 게 예요.

Translation: (first attempt) A Tale of Two Classes.

As the title suggests, this week I went to both of my Korean classes. After a day of on-again, (mostly) off-again shooting, I said to hell with making a shoe puppet movie solo. It’s just not that much fun working alone. Especially when compared to what is fun: eating corn on the cob, trying to master a new language, and riding my bike (everywhere).

Again (다시), as the title (제속?) suggests, there was a noticeable difference in the classes. Saturday’s class saw me reunited with my original teacher, but she was already mid-lesson with another student. A student who was studying from a TOPEK II (i.e. level II) book. (TOPEK, for those who don’t know, is the official Korean proficiency exam. And she’s studying at the harder level for it. I.e. waaaay above my level.)

Nevertheless the lady was nice. She saw that I needed practice speaking Korean, so she asked if it would be cool asking me questions in Korean. Now this is something that I’d normally be excited by. Unfortunately, since our levels were mismatched, her questions were too hard. Or not “too hard,” but too long. Such as nearly all her questions used conjunctions. Not a problem I know plenty of conjunctions and learn more by the week. Only she was using the “~면”conjunction,” the “if” conjunction. Whichnworks in Korean the same way the “because” conjunction works: in opposition to how it’s used in English. (Basically, in Korean, when using either “because” or “if,” you’re saying “Because…” or “If…” not the other way around. So “Because I exercised too much, I was tired” rather than “I was tired, because I exercised.”

At my level, this is (still) much too complicated. Too many words to keep track of at once. I could translate (most of) the first clause, “something something he goes if, blahblahblah.” (By the time I’m done translating the first half, the second half is flying by.) Though, as I said, she was super nice about it. It just wasn’t too fruitful of a match. I was confused and frustrated, though I would do my best answering in my basic Korean once our teacher translated the question for me. (There wasn’t a Level Four booklet like my previous classes were doing using so that I could crib useful notes/ideas.)


Sunday, on the other hand, went a lot smoother. I had climbed a new mountain during the day, and, after polishing off two more sections of my book, I created a bunch of sentences to dictate to my teacher in Korean. Most of which I did perfectly. Even, and get this, a “because” one. A dreaded “because” one!

Mainly, I did what I had endeavored to do a couple weeks ago, when I tried combining two of my independent clauses via conjunction (because), and my teacher told me I sounded more natural, more fluent, speaking with the smaller clauses. As with everything in life, there’s no greater motivation in life than being told not to do something. So I figured, as talked about earlier, that the biggest hurdle to using “because” and “if” is how they’re opposite to how they’re situated in English. In Korean they go cause –> effect, rather than English’s effect –> cause. So I figured if I changed the way I envision them in my head, I might be more successful using them. So I’d compose them as “Because I didn’t go to class last week, my teachers were worried” rather than “My teachers were worried because I didn’t go to class last week.” And oh, what a difference a change in phrasing makes!

It worked! It worked great! It was almost effortless if you ignore me having to remember the “because” conjunction (~(으)니까) because I’m out of practice using it. But, by putting “because” first, mentally I’m alerted to what conjunction I’m using first, and away I go! As my exclamations can attest, it was a big moment for me. Especially helpful after a number of rough days with my Anki quizzes and then Saturday’s class.


A perfect start to the week.